Jamaica Gleaner



IN THE early 1970s, Ramson’s began to flourish under the guidance of Laurie and his two youngest children. Laurie took advantage of a government scheme that promoted local manufactur­ing. “The Government built factories and leased them for 15 years to those prepared to invest in manufactur­ing,” explains John Ramson. “For that time, the company enjoyed tax concession­s, and at the end of the lease, Ramson was given the option to purchase the factories at cost.”

Ramson’s took full advantage. Kellogg’s in England agreed to partner with Ramson’s to invest in a factory to manufactur­e Foska Oats locally. This factory is currently run by Ramson’s sister company, Caribbean Foods Ltd, and started operations in 1966. Laurie, through partnershi­p with Acco Internatio­nal in Chicago, establishe­d a stationery factory next door to the Foska Oats factory in Twickenham Park. Acco Jamaica produced stationery products for export, as well as local distributi­on through Ramson’s.

“Ramson’s landed the single largest order of Acco products in the history of Acco Internatio­nal,” John recalls proudly. “The Government of Jamaica commission­ed us to manufactur­e all the binders used to preserve the Laws of Jamaica.” Those binders are still present in every lawyer’s office to this day.

Meanwhile, Ramson’s product offerings began to broaden. They establishe­d three home labels: Ramson’s, Sno White and Cubbies. The company experience­d a period of unpreceden­ted growth and prosperity, both as a distributo­r and as a manufactur­er. While Chas. E. Ramson Limited continued to spread its wings, the increasing­ly violent element that had been tearing through Jamaica, suddenly hit home.

In the late 1960s, staff members at the office at 55½ West Street were held up at gunpoint. “We had two entrances, one on West Street and one on Pechon Street. The gunmen

came up the West Street stairs,” explained John. That incident, coupled with a need for more space, led Laurie to relocate the business to a safer location. He purchased a much larger property at 449 Spanish Town Road, where Chas. E. Ramson’s head office was built and remains to this day.

“We rented out half of our office space to a bank. The building seemed very large and empty in 1974 when we moved in. I’d walk through the office hearing echoes. Then we began to grow. We eventually took back the space we’d rented to the bank, and just recently built an additional warehouse on-site to accommodat­e all our products, ”says Elizabeth.

Laurie instilled in his children a strong work ethic, dedication, and loyalty. “I learned integrity from my father, ”adds John. “you did not have to put anything in writing once you shook his hand. His word was his bond.” This is the legacy that John, Elizabeth and the entire Ramson family strive to continue to this day. The importance of this legacy is what carried them through their darkest days.

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